Safdar Khan Babi

This large and imposing painting, of circa 1790-1810, depicts the Afghan nobleman of Mughal empire, Safdar Khan Babi. The painting is inscribed to the top in black nasta‘liq against scrolling white clouds, the letters intermingled with diagonal flights of birds. . The inscription may be partially read as follows:

J(?)…. khan ji al-mukhatab be-safdar khan bahadur babi ‘alamgir shahi

“J(?) (undeciphered)… Khan Ji, titled Safdar Khan Bahadur Babi [of] ‘Alamgir Shah”

Brief history of Babi Afghans in India 

Babis are Ghurghust Pashtuns, related to Kakars, Pannis, Mando Khels etc. Omar Khan Babi, one of the descendants of Babaey son of Ghurghust had joined Humayun’s army in Hind. Bahadur Khan son of Osman Khan Babi, remained in the royal service of Emperor Akbar during the latter part of his rule and rose to prominence during the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan and received two villages in Gujarat state as jagir.  One of the sons of Bahadur Khan named Sher Khan was a favorite of Emperor Aurangzeb for his services in suppressing the uprisings in Gujarat and adjoining territory. In 1672, Kutbuddin, the Faujdar of Surat, invaded Jamnagar. Against stiff resistance Sher Khan captured the fort of Jamnagar. Kutbuddin appointed him the Faujdar of Gujarat and Baroda, in addition he was given the town of Piran Pattan in jagir. He died in Sidhpur and was buried in Ahmadabad. (“History of the Pathans” by Haroon Rashid, pp-190-191)

Safdar Khan Babi

In 1693 Jafar Khan, son of Sher Khan Babi, by his ability and local influence, obtained the faujddri of Radhanpur, Sami, Munjpur, `and Tervada, with the title of Safdar Khan. In 1704 he was made governor of Bijapur (in Gujarat), and in 1706 of Patan (Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 21, p. 23.)

In 1701, Safdar Khan Babi and his sons Muhammad Salabat Khan and Muhammad Jahan Khan along with their retainers, foiled the rebellious designs of Durgadas Rathor of Marwar. They pursued the rebels and gave them a strong fight. A grandson of Durgadas and a large number of Rajputs were killed at the hands of the sons of Safdar Khan Babi, but the latter failed to capture Durgadas, who fled to Marwar. In 1703 A.D, Safdar Khan Babi again offered to capture Durgadas. Similarly in 1703, Safdar Babi led his forces against Dhana Jadhav, the invincible Maratha thief, and resisted his depredations inside Gujarat. The Afghan leader was caught unaware by the enemy on the banks of Narbada and though he fought with “steadfastness and firmness” yet they were defeated by the Marathas. While Muhammad Osman lost his life, Safdar Babi was made captive by the enemy in a wounded state. Muhammad Azam Babi, the nephew of Safdar Khan Babi, managed to return with few retainers (Afghan nobility and the Mughals by Rita Joshi, p.164)

Safdar Khan Babi died in 1725 A.D. His grandsons founded the independent states of Junagadh, Balasinor and Radhanpur.


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